TULSA — It almost sounds like something out of a medieval tale of alchemy: Syntroleum Corp. developed a process to turn animal fat into high quality diesel fuel.
It may not be turning lead into gold, but it was enough to turn the former research and development firm into Oklahoma’s top company for the year that ended June 30. Syntroleum sits atop the Oklahoma Inc. rankings a year after finishing No. 33. The company’s revenues rose a state-best 420 percent to more than $24 million, while its earnings per share jumped 210 percent. Only one Oklahoma company topped that figure, the rankings show. Karen Gallagher, Syntroleum’s senior vice president and principal financial officer, is not surprised by the company’s gains. "We feel like we’ve done the right thing at the right time,” she said. Gallagher said Syntroleum is beginning to capitalize on years of research efforts. The company was not intended to make a profit during that period, she said, but now Syntroleum has a product to sell: a process called Bio-Synfining that can convert waste products into fuel. "We’re a very unique niche,” Gallagher said. "Not a lot of companies do renewable fuels.” Syntroleum is nearing completion of a $150 million plant in Louisiana, a joint venture with Tyson Foods Inc. that will churn out 75 million gallons on synthetic fuel each year. The company also is selling its shuttered demonstration plant at the Port of Catoosa to Sinopec Corp., a state-owned energy company in China. "We have a technique that can turn waste products like yellow grease and chicken fat .